Rick Owens Put Steppers On The Catwalk and Won Paris Fashion Week

This could've been lame. Instead, it was pretty awesome.

A still on the FashionBombDaily Instagram account from the Rick Owens show.

Paris Fashion Week. You’re thinking tall, thin models doing their horse trot thing down the catwalk. Not at Rick Owens. The designer sent members of step teams from American colleges down the runway wearing his latest fashions for the Spring 2014 season. And for stepping out of the box (sorry!), he’s reaping some serious buzz.

Fashion has a serious diversity problem. And the efforts taken thus far to change things have seemed cosmetic at best and pitiful at worst. Either some designers ignore calls for shows that are more representative of the buying public, or they’ve added a model or two with a minority background to the lineup as a gesture. A few designers — Tracy Reese, Diane von Furstenburg, Anna Sui — actually populate their fashion shows with a diverse cast. But they truly are few and far between.

So this Rick Owens step show could’ve gone badly. It could’ve been panned by the fashion elite. It might’ve been a stunt that fizzled. Instead, the steppers put on a serious show that had everyone talking and showed us how to do something different to full and magnificent effect. How did he pull it off? Let’s discuss.

Step shows and step teams aren’t part of the mainstream college experience. While a lot of African Americans are familiar with it, there are lots of others who might not be. Even if you are familiar, you’re not used to seeing it in this setting. Fashion is all about showing people something new in a cool and creative way. Steppers on the catwalk wearing the latest fashions does just that.

Moreover, it was authentic. These were real women doing something they’re great at, something they do in real life. And they had bodies like real women. This wasn’t just lip service to diversity, but truly putting a whole experience out there. This was five months in the making with professionals brought in to make it happen. And it’s visually arresting. The movements and the synchronization make for a spectacle you can’t take your eyes off of.

And finally, it adds another element of interest to the garment. Hell, if you can do a whole choreographed step routine in these outfits, you can run to hail a cab, go from office to cocktails, and run a few errands before you head home in them.

Here’s the whole video from the show. Enjoy.

[via The Atlantic]